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Hockey DayBob Gainey takes pride in Peterborough

Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013 | 02:23 PM

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Bob Gainey won four consecutive Selke Trophies for being the best defensive forward in the NHL. (File/Getty IMages) Bob Gainey won four consecutive Selke Trophies for being the best defensive forward in the NHL. (File/Getty IMages)

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Bob Gainey left Peterborough in 1973 to play for the Montreal Canadiens and the game has taken him around the world. But he always fits in return trips to his hometown, the site of Hockey Day in Canada on Saturday

It takes a community to raise a boy. I think that's what these communities do for you boys. It takes many people to help you guys get from kids who were playing on the pond to kids who are going to the NHL.

- Bob Gainey, in his address to the 2004 OHL all-stars in Peterborough in Jan. 2004


Bob Gainey knows about community. Like so many before and after him, the thoughtful Hockey Hall of Famer is appreciative of his hometown of Peterborough, Ont. and his experiences there.

He left Peterborough in 1973 to play for the Montreal Canadiens and the game has taken him around the world. But Gainey always fits in return trips to his hometown, site of Hockey Day In Canada on Saturday.

"I've always kept contact here," he said. "I have moved around quite a bit. I moved out in the early 1970s and haven't lived here since. But I always like come back to keep in contact in 40 years since I moved away. It's nice to stay in touch with this community in different ways, whether with family or charities.

"The place really hasn't changed all that much. I'm still very comfortable here."

And there are plenty of memories for him in Peterborough. Whether the Mark St. home he grew in or nearby Riverside Park where he learned to skate or the Hunter St. Bridge his father George, a World War II veteran, walked across every day to work at the Quaker Oats factory.

One of the first teams Gainey played on was for Immaculate Conception, the Catholic Church where he was an altar boy. The Peterborough Memorial Centre also wasn't far from the Gainey home. Of course, that's where he played for the Petes and legendary head coach Roger Neilson.

"One thing was Roger did was he kept hockey a game," Gainey said. "He kept it fun. That's the way I remember my experience in the Canadian Hockey League.

"He was good at staying in touch and picking up with the vibrations of what was going on with the people he was working with."

Stanley Cup success

Gainey would go onto to win five Stanley Cups with the Canadiens and a sixth as general manager of the 1998-99 Dallas Stars. After several seasons running the Canadiens, Gainey is back with the Stars as a senior advisor to the hockey operations department.

He still lives in Montreal, but stopped by Peterborough this week to be part of Hockey Day celebrations.

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It was back in 1956 when the Canadiens put one of their farm teams in Peterborough, the TPTs, named after the company that sponsored the club, Toronto Peterborough Transportation. Did the Canadiens influence set the table for Peterborough becoming such a hockey hotbed?

"When they brought in that feeder team, Montreal put in a lot of things in place," Gainey said. "The way the players dressed for games. They opened up bank accounts for the players. The Canadiens put their stamp on the team.

"But also with Peterborough being in close proximity to Toronto, the Maple Leafs held training camps in Peterborough and that helped."

Gainey also felt that the two large manufacturing companies in town, General Electric and Quaker Oats, played a role in Peterborough becoming such a sporting community.

"The town had a manufacturing economy with nine to five jobs. That left lots of time for parents to get kids around to the different sporting events like baseball, box lacrosse is very popular and, of course, hockey."

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